Unions Ramp Up Support of Immigration Bill
As the Senate begins debate on an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, organized labor is picking up the pace of its advocacy for the bill.
The Service Employees International Union, which claims over two million members, said it had bought more than $1 million in television advertising on cable networks nationwide this month.
Five ads feature police officers, Republicans and small-business owners — not traditional supporters of labor — calling on Congress to stop fighting over immigration and to “fix what’s broke” in the system. The ads call for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
The A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation’s largest labor federation, said it would bring 50 union leaders from 27 states to Washington on Wednesday to lobby in the Senate and the House. The organization said it was starting a call-in campaign by union members focusing on about two dozen senators, from states including Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee, who have not made public their positions on the legislation.
Richard L. Trumka, the federation’s president, was among an array of supporters who appeared with President Obama when he spoke from the White House on Tuesday morning to urge the Senate to pass the bill.
Immigrant workers, especially Latinos, have brought growth to unions that have struggled for years with declining membership. The A.F.L.-C.I.O reached a hard-fought agreement with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in March on a temporary program for low-skilled foreign workers that is included in the Senate bill.